RMRG was formed in the early 1960s by a group of Railway Enthusiasts who were members of the Roch Valley Railway Society and wanted to put on a model railway show in conjunction with that Society. One of the “founding fathers” of the group was the well known railway photographer and chronicler Richard Greenwood. Those early shows were held in the hall above the Fire Station.
Like a lot of such marriages of convenience, the two societies had different aims and objectives and soon went their separate ways, and for many years RMRG had club rooms on council premises at Lea Hall, near the current bus station, and in the early 70s produced the exhibition layout “Stubley” and later added a 2nd branch element to it to form “Stubley and Waterfoot”. It was about this time that plans started for what was to become the magnum opus layout of the society, “Gauxholme Viaduct”, a model of the prototype on the Lancashire and Yorkshire mainline, just West of Todmorden. In the mid-1980s the layout travelled all over the country to shows and won many awards and accolades, but was retired in the early 90’s and bought by a club member, Gerry Ogden. The layout still exists today. The club had also moved to their own rented rooms in the top floor of Hamer Mill. The annual show itself had moved on and in the early 70s moved into the magnificent surroundings of Rochdale Town Hall.
After Gauxholme had gone another project was started, this time in P4 and based on the current diesel scene at that time, the sectorisation period of BR. The bare baseboards and track did appear at the show as a working demonstration. However it was never finished as the club were evicted from Hamer Mill when the owner went bankrupt in the late 90s. Not only that but club members were heavily involved in their own exhibition layouts at this period in time: Trevor Hughes with Tan y Grisiau, the late Ian Whitehead (and latterly taken over by Martin Edmondson) with Fort Nevis, Andy Cooper with Brushford and then Spotland Bridge, Tony Bucknell with Lydgate, Graham Bucknell with Argyle Road and Weston Road, Ian Worthington with Glaisworth and Cornwallis Yard, Karl Crowther with Kentside and Cornwallis Yard. Not only that but just prior to our enforced departure from Hamer Mill, a small 7mm club layout largely masterminded by Ian Bowker, John Taylor and David Smith, Amalgamated Wagon was built. The show itself in 2001 had to move premises as overrunning works at the Town Hall meant we couldn’t use the main hall there. We moved to Oulder Hill school that year, and, while it doesn’t have the magnificent gothic architecture of the Town Hall, it does have the major advantage of flat access!
The 1990s was a very productive time for club members, and as a result it was decided to not build any further club layouts as with only a hard core of 6-8 regular members it was difficult enough to keep our own layouts at shows!! After a couple of years resident at Ian Worthington’s home in Ripponden, we finally managed to find some premises in Sowerby Bridge where we stayed until hikes in rent and rates rendered the rooms uneconomical and we moved out in April 2009, to return to Rochdale. The show as well altered, after our 49th show, after much hassle with the contractors who had taken over the managing and running of the infrastructure of Oulder Hill school, we decided that enough was enough, we do this for a hobby, not to get stressed out! We decided to stop doing the show and took a break for a few yars before coming back with our current format at the Coach House, Littleborough. Small, cosy and a bit old school, but its an enjoyable show to do, and our exhibitors keep asking if they can bring their next layout, so we are doing something right.
We currently have 8 layouts on the circuit – go to https://rochdalemrg.wordpress.com/see-us-at-these-exhibitions/ and check out where you can see them or alternately come to our show at Littleborough Coach House https://rochdalemrg.wordpress.com/our-exhibition/